On the Remembrance Trail, down the Eastern Macro-Metro corridor to DC for the 10th annual Memorial observance of the Sandy Hook shootings.
Friday night I shopped the little book fair in Northampton, MA, a rather cramped affair, but with some interesting material on display. Bought a heap of early 19th C missionary periodicals with Sandwich Islands and China reports and a few Putnam’s magazines with appearances by Melville. A marvelous letter describing the gun that blew up during its performance trials aboard the USS Princeton, killing a number of Navy bigshots. A spiffy clipper ship sailing card for a ship called the San Francisco, an album of 60 Japanese naval postcards from between the wars, featuring naval vessels framed by lovely colored, almost Deco-seeming designs, an unusually detailed log of a merchant schooner, ca 1830, and I don’t remember what else.
Stayed at the Hotel Northampton that night – a place I first visited in 1970 or so, later to be the scene of the fabled Oinonen auctions, which at that time offered an auction-goer’s special rate of $99 a night. By contrast, the $285 tab in 2022 didn’t seem so special. And Dick Oinonen was long gone.
Then down to Morristown and Madison for some uninspired buying, then to Gettysburg to stay with friends. Next morning (Sunday), a leisurely drive to DC, highlighted by a stop at Wonder Book & Video in Frederick, MD.
What a shop! There must’ve been 100,000 books piled up in that vast space, customers poking through shelves and heaps, seeking whatever interested them, or discovering new interests as they poked, happy as weevils in a sack of cheese.
Remember those innocent, pre-internet days when books were our major source of information? Wonder Books harks back to that era, customers trolling the long aisles with shopping carts! “Hmm. That looks interesting.” Ka-ching!
Chuck is really onto something here, a throwback business model if ever there was one. I found half a dozen books on bicycling for my personal collection, and even a wet book to flog in my forthcoming Christmas catalog. I’m told he also has shops in Hagerstown and Gaithersburg, and a giant warehouse in an old postal facility somewhere. There is no end of books! And seemingly no end of Chuck’s acquisitional mania.
Maybe I’ll go visit Aaron and Helene at Capitol Hill Books today, then down to the real Capitol for the real business…
Here’s the pitch:
Gun Violence Prevention Advocate Says He’s “Sick of Being Brokenhearted”
A long-form piece about how gun control advocacy as currently practiced doesn’t work, and what a bunch of namby-pamby do-gooders we all are. We light our candles, and say those tragic names, and gong our gongs, and give tearful hugs, and the NRA crocodiles are sitting back there, picking their teeth, and saying, “Is that all you got?”
First it was Columbine… “This is when America will realize we HAVE to stop the slaughter.” Then it was Newtown, and then Parkland. And today, if you don’t get the revolting truth that our nation has deemed this slaughter acceptable, you’re part of the problem.
If Joan Didion and Hunter Thompson had a child who could write, that’s what I want to write it like.